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UV lens on a shoe-string budget


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#1 nfoto

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:02

Many newcomers to the field of UV photography are intimidated by the cost of dedicated UV lenses. No wonder as these easily run to several thousand dollars.

 

Finding the more affordable alternative might not always be easy as there are many pitfalls on the road from getting a candidate lens to putting it into successful service for UV work. Again, price is a first stumble block, secondly,  getting the lens to work on your camera of choice is another.

 

The Petri line-up of lenses dates from early '60s and here you can find good candidates for UV. They fetch fairly low prices on the second-hand market and there is little interest from collectors, so time is now to pick up some of them. These lenses have Petri breech-lock mount, which isn't compatible with anything except Petri's own cameras. The mount does not lend itself to rapid swapping of lenses which probably explains why its popularity faded away. However, it does secure a sturdy connection to the camera and is not prone to wear. The Petri system have a quite short register (distance from mount to film plane) and the internal working of these lenses makes modifying the mount into something else difficult. If infinity focus is to be attained you have to put the lens on some mirrorless camera.

 

The outward appearance of the Petri lenses is typical for their period. They look nice and most have scalloped chrome focusing rings. The longer lenses are an exception and are finished in satin black instead. The internal construction is pretty basic, however a clean sample treated with care should last a life time.

 

You can find these lenses under the Petri label, or designated Kuribayashi, Kyoei, W.Acall, and probably more. As long as they have the breech-lock mount and have simple coatings they should be fine for UV applications. Don't expect UV-Nikkor performance at a fraction of the cost, though! All of them should be stopped down a bit to deliver best UV results. Flare can be a problem due to the pretty basic coatings, so ensure the front of the lens is well shaded.

 

Petri lenses tested for UV are as follows;

  • 35 mm f/3.5 (doubt the f/2.8 is good but not tested). Does very well in UV. 46 mm threads.
  • 55 mm f/1.8 (not great for UV as expected from its high speed, but you can get interesting pictures from it. Probably only goes to just below 380 nm). 55 mm threads.
  • 135 mm f/3.5 (not tested the f/2.8). A good all-round UV performer. 52 mm threads.
  • 200 mm f/4 (not tested the faster f/3.5). A good all-round UV performer. 55 mm threads. Stop down to f/11 or beyond for best results.
  • 400 mm f/6.3. Must be stopped down preferably beyond f/11,  but results can be surprisingly good. 72 mm filter threads so using a rear-mounted filter or filter box is recommended. It has an excellent tripod mount as well and is very light weight for its focal length. I modified my 400 to be F-mount only.

The 300 mm f/5.5 is currently on its way so has not been tested yet. However, its design is pretty much the same as the 400 so my guess is they will have similar UV behaviour. This lens, like the 400 brother, will be converted to F-mount.

 

These lenses go for very low prices and you can easily pick up clean samples for well under $50. In fact I recently have purchased 35/3.5, 55/1.8 and 135/3.5 in the area of $15 each. The longer lenses tend to cost a little more, probably because they usually are sold with a case so makes shipping more expensive. Still $ 55 sufficed a few weeks ago to obtain a mint copy of the 200/4 Petri.

 

Now, to the more nitty-gritty part of the affair. You have the lens(es) and want to use them on your camera(s). To retain infinity focus, using an adapter on a mirrorless camera is the only viable option. A possible exception being the 300 & 400 lenses, but they do need substantial modification to retain infinity focus say with an F mount.I managed to track down a few Petri-m43 adapters, but they are very scarce. Adapters for Petri to other systems such as Sony or Fuji are still available, though. An easier approach is getting a Petri 2X TC (approx. $15) or a Petri extension tube set (again about $20), plus a Minolta MD to m4/3 (or your mirrorless system) adapter. Remove the mount on the MD adapter and replace it with the female mount from the TC. Register distance difference  between MD and Petri is a fraction of a mm so you are more or less done to infinity when the lens is stopped down.

 

Many UV shooters do close-ups so you actually would need to add extension to your lens anyway and keeping infinity focus is not that important. In this case, you can combine the female part of a Petri extension tube to an M42 adapter for your camera and you're done. Alternatively, if you have a spare Petri 2X TC, remove the male Petri mount at its end and put a bayonet mount for your system there.The internals of the TC can go into a UV-capable teleconverter for your system.

 

Here are some examples of components to fit the 135 mm f/3.5 Petri lens.

 

First, an overview, showing the lens itself and all the auxiliary components. Top row left to right is Petri extension tube set, modified MD-m4/3 adapter with Petri female mount. Bottom left to right is a Petri-m4/3 adapter (modified to have a tripod mount), the Petri 135 itself, and finally, the remnants of a Petri 2X TC (optics used to make a UV TC for the UV-Nikkor) with a Nikon F mount added to its rear. A CPU is installed of course.

 

Attached File  NG_Petri135DSC_2650.jpg   460.93KB   2 downloads

 

Then, a detail of the combination  of Petri female mount in front, from the extension tube kit, with an M42-F adapter in the rear. Again a CPU is installed as the combination is to be used on my F cameras.

 

Attached File  NG_Petri135DSC_2655.jpg   422.66KB   1 downloads

 

To underscore,  now  is the time to get these cheap lenses for UV. If interest in them increases so will the price level.


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#2 Akira

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 11:21

Do these Petri lenses transmit more UV (both in terms of amount and wavelength) than, say, the older EL-Nikkors 80/5.6 or 105/5.6?


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#3 nfoto

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 11:48

My impression is so, yes. They are within 1.5 EV of my UV-Nikkor. Colour balance suggests they go quite low into the UV range.


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#4 Erik Lund

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 13:36

Nice with some affordable UV alternatives :)



#5 nfoto

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 15:21

Erik: when I get my spare 135 in the near future, it can be yours for free ....


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#6 Erik Lund

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 15:32

Thanks Bjørn! :)



#7 Akira

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 18:06

My impression is so, yes. They are within 1.5 EV of my UV-Nikkor. Colour balance suggests they go quite low into the UV range.

 

That's fairly impressive.  Thanks for the detail.


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#8 Akira

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 18:18

I've found the identical Petri 135/3.5 (silver focus ring) on ebay.  The condition seems to be inferior to the on depicted above, and the "buy it now" price is 49 USD, and the shipment fo Japan is 47.35 USD.  :(

 

There I found more 135/3.5 with black focus ring.  I don't know if they are identical to the ones with silver focus ring, in terms of optical design and coating.


Edited by Akira, 15 April 2013 - 18:20 .

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#9 nfoto

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:58

The all-black version is probably more recent. However, as long as they carry the breech-lock mount, they should be old enough to do UV.

 

These Petris really transmit a lot of UV. In my studio setup i just dial in +1 EV on the flash heads and shot them like I do my Coastal 60 or the UV-Nikkors. They balance well with PhotoNinja to give similar 'UV-colours' to the other lenses, another token that they transmit fairly deep into the UV as well.

 

This a 100% crop from Petri 135/3.5 on the D3200. Baader U2", f/11, ISO 200. Sharpness is surprisingly good. Just so one can overlook the mundane test object.

 

 

Attached File  NG_Petri135_f11_100pct_DSC0221.jpg   551.77KB   7 downloads

 

There is a significant focus shift in UV, so either calibrate your setup using a focusing stage or use LiveView. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is present even when using the UV bandpass filter thus stop down to f/8 or more.

 

Considering I only paid $15 for this lens it is a true surprise for UV work.


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#10 nfoto

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 21:34

Having used these Petri lenses more over the last weeks, I can add they indeed pass an impressive amount of UV under real field use. However, UV transmission as such is not the only criterion for a UV lens of course. So unless one is seeking the more abstract renditions. stopping them down is highly recommended. The Petri 135 mm f/3.5 appears to be the best performer of these and it handles stopping down to f/11 or further very well. This lens will be the insider's tip if you want to shoot near subjects or close-ups in UV, and find yourself on a shoe-string budget.

 

Sometimes, however, you just wish to open it all the way and let it have a good time. Here is a detail from my triple-pane glass window earlier today. Shot hand-held at 1/125 sec with the D3200 (800 ISO to keep speed up).

 

 

Attached File  NG_UV_Petri_135_T1304300371.jpg   551.39KB   3 downloads


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#11 JCDowdy

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 18:57

Dr. Rørslett,

 

I have acquired a specimen of the 135 mm f/3.5 Petri lens and Petri 2X TC shown in your photo.  May I inquire as to the particular make and model of the Minolta MD to micro 4/3 adapter you used so I may complete a faithful rendition of your assembly?

 

As a newcomer novice I greatly appreciate your generous guidance!



#12 nfoto

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 19:31

I vaguely remember the particular MD -m4/3 adapter was from RainBow imaging. However, I don't think the actual make is that important as long as the adapter is specified for MD.

 

A quick search on eBay with the string "adapter minolta MD to m4/3" returned > 100 items. Most very cheap as well. Buy a couple so you have material for experimentation.

 

Do remember the need to check for any light leaks in the finished adapter. Use black velvet cloth on the inside to eliminate these leaks which *will* destroy the output image if not dealt with.


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#13 Andrea B.

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 19:38

Any chance the Petri will focus to infinity ?


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#14 nfoto

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 19:56

It will - but only on a mirrorless camera. (or using a Petri breechlock film-based camera, if you can find one that is in working order).


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#15 JCDowdy

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 20:21

As I suspected, perhaps one with a built in tripod mount will be the choice.

Thanks!



#16 JCDowdy

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 06:58

Yes, we photobiologists/ UV metrologists call that stray radiation and it can ruin experiments!

I buy black velvet by the yard, I hope the sewing ladies at the fabric store don't think I am some kind of vampire!

Adhesive backed black flocking for the really critical stuff like the interior of a spectroradiometer.

 - John

 

Do remember the need to check for any light leaks in the finished adapter. Use black velvet cloth on the inside to eliminate these leaks which *will* destroy the output image if not dealt with.



#17 Dennis Ng

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 13:18

Just report my experience so far.

 

I finally get a few petri lens.  The equipment set (still some to come: 135/f2.8 and 2x; 1 more 135/f3.5 and 1 200/f4) has so far a modified Nikon N1 (based on a thread here), 2 bellow (explain a bit later), 1 nex-petri adapter, 1 n1-petri, 50f1.8, 135/3.5 and 400/6.3 (sort of, explain later) and 1 52mm Andrea U .  

 

See my sets in yahoo for the experiment if you really want to.

 

equipment so far :-) :  

 

just one UV photos:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennisngathk/sets/72157634316879973/

 

In brief,

 

a) Petri lens are good lens to have with Nex 5n (unmodified) for normal photography and 50 f1.8 is really great

B) the N1 is a good infrared camera after modification

c) the UV make the exposure of ISO 6400 of Nikon 1 (well) from1/2000 down to 6" in medium UV index level and 

    - Hongkong will have hot weather but not sure it will help much here

    focus shifted (see the only UV photo posted) and hard to correct

 

Major problem on the lens front is that the petri bayonet lens are not unique it seems.  In fact, one of my bellow and the 400/f6.3 are not the same lens mount and definitely not one of beach mount.  They do can share the same rear mount caps but not totally the same.  I do not know what these two mount are.  

 

Some more details on some points above

 

a) Petri is good lens for Nex5n as we have focus peaking and hist. to know the exposure and

    Pertri has the a real aperture ring and a focusing ring and very pleasure to use together with Nex, love it v much

    Now that one bellow on beach mount can work with it it is even better

 

B) Nikon N1 is a very bad manual lens camera

    - it does not have any focus peaking, no histo., and no manual focusing mag. aid

    - (to its credit it does can go down to bulb as long as you use manual ISO not auto ISO which limit to 1.3 sec)

    - after conversion, there would be a strong "flash" or refresh every time the display (mandatory) back to ready-for-taking-pic

      as EVF is already bad for eye (It is like shining a torch to you the whole time) but that flash will kill your eye

    - the lower in exposure meant, unlike infrared, you cannot see anything - just blind focusing (or focus shift)

    - using adapter FT1 it work very well Infrared filter R72 (and there is no flash)

 

c) the bellow can take M42 camera and hence it would be useful for other purpose.

 

I have no high hope for the UV shoe string lens and hence it is ok for result as it is.  May be using the Nikon N1 a bad option in any case (but it is so cheap this day).  Struggle now to modify my Nex5N or not.  Or, should I get a modified UV flash (but then the gear to protect eyes and other parts of the body).  


Edited by Dennis Ng, 25 June 2013 - 13:20 .


#18 renaud

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 15:27

Hi Dennis,

I'm a bit surprised that your projected equipment is highly skewed towards long lenses. What do you wish to photograph? I have once considered photographing wildlife in UV but gave up long ago. On the Nikon V1 I can confirm your observations, I have found it to be a poor performer in UV.

Regarding focus peaking, one workaround is to use a video monitor with this function. Obviously it only works on the HDMI stream, not the full resolution picture, but it is quite useable.


Edited by renaud, 25 June 2013 - 15:27 .


#19 Andrea B.

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 17:44

May I confirm that the Nikon V1 and N1 cams that Renaud and Dennis are referring to are modified cameras with internal filters removed (if there are any)? I want to add this info to the Sticky as a "not recommended" camera.

Thanks.


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#20 overmywaders

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 22:02

I know that this is a UV forum, but I just wanted to note that one should test the black velvet for IR reflectivity, in case they wanted to use the lens for IR. Some black is highly IR reflective.






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